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Federal appeals court considers dismissing war crimes conviction challenge

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] has ordered attorneys in the case of a former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainee to supply briefs explaining whether the issue has become moot. The case revolves around the war crimes conviction of former detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [DOD materials; JURIST news archive]. Hamdan has already completed his sentence and is no longer living in the US. In a post-argument brief [text, PDF] lawyers for Hamdan argued that his conviction will continue to have adverse affects on his life, including his permanent ban on travel to the US, and potential future political conflict with US army, which continues to occupy his home country of Yemen. The appeals court is considering the case which was appealed from the US Court of Military Commission Review [official website]. The military commission upheld the conviction [JURIST report] last June, ultimately rejecting the defense's argument that Hamdan's charge of providing material support to terrorism is not a war crime capable of being prosecuted by a military tribunal. The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] does not dispute [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] Hamdan's contention that the case is not moot.

Hamdan was originally convicted [JURIST report] in August 2008 on charges [charge sheet, PDF], which stemmed from his employment as Bin Laden's driver, and sentenced to 66 months of imprisonment, but given credit for 60 months he had already spent in US custody. In November 2008, Hamdan was released [JURIST report] to his native country Yemen to serve the last month of his prison sentence and is now living freely in Yemen. His release alleviated concerns that arose when government lawyers said he could be held indefinitely [JURIST report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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